Today's service is the Nottingham Trent Valley Methodist Circuit Service taking place at Trinity Methodist Church, Long Eaton, and relayed via Zoom to Grangewood where Rev Christine Fox will conduct Holy Communion. Unfortunately, for copyright reasons, we are not able to give you a recording of the service. but Keith Fox (Kingswood) has kindly produced Worship at Home resources on which the present blog is based.
This act of worship at home is based on the Nottingham Trent Valley Methodist Circuit Service to held this morning at Trinity Methodist Church, with material produced by Judi Smart, Tim Baker, Trevor Pratt, Twelve Baskets and the Methodist Church.
Song: StF 347 Crown Him with many crowns - Worship Band Version | New Scottish Hymns Band
Great God, universe-maker and life-giver:
Emmanuel, God with us, Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour: we worship you.
Nearby God, touching and embracing God, God within: we worship you.
God of promise, God of hope, God of new beginnings: we worship you.
We ask your forgiveness for things we’ve done wrong; for words we’ve spoken that weren’t right; for thoughts that shouldn’t have happened; for resentments we have held.
Forgive us and change us we pray.
Faithful God, loving God of grace, forgiving God: you do forgive us
We worship you.
Song: What a beautiful name - The official Lyric Video for "What A Beautiful Name" Hillsong Worship
Song: StF 54 I will worship : by David Ruis Stoneleigh Worship
Reading Acts 1:1-11
The ascension is one of the great moments in the Jesus narrative, where we see many witnesses experience a miraculous moment, and a calling – a calling to follow. Let’s reflect on N T Wright’s words as he unpicks what this momentous event might mean for us today:
'First, it is obvious that without the resurrection of Jesus the evangelists would never have had a story to tell. Thousands of young Jews were crucified by the Romans. Very few of them are even mentioned in our historical sources, except as a grisly footnote. Even those who think the evangelists were in fact very clever inventors of large-scale fictions designed to revive a Jesus movement that might not otherwise have survived the death (and continuing deadness, so to speak) of its founder are bound to admit that even within these cleverly designed myths the resurrection plays the vital role in opening the question up again, so that what looked like defeat, like yet another failure of a kingdom-dream, was in fact a victory.'
'The resurrection, in short, is presented by the evangelists not as a ‘happy ending’ after an increasingly sad and gloomy tale, but as the event that demonstrated that Jesus’ execution really had dealt the deathblow to the dark forces that had stood in the way of God’s new world, God’s ‘kingdom’ of powerful creative and restorative love, arriving ‘on earth as in heaven’. That is why the bodily resurrection matters in a way that it never quite does, even to the devout who insist that they believe it, if all one is interested in is a kingdom ‘not of this world’.
The resurrection is, from Mark’s point of view, the moment when God’s kingdom ‘comes in power’. From John’s point of view, it is the launching of the new creation, the new Genesis. From Matthew’s point of view, it brings Jesus into the position for which he was always destined, that of the world’s rightful Lord, sending out his followers to call the world to follow him and learn his way of being human. From Luke’s point of view, the resurrection is the moment when Israel’s Messiah ‘comes into his glory’, so that ‘repentance for the forgiveness of sins’ can now be announced to all the world as the way of life, indeed, as they say in Acts, as The Way.'
'It is the resurrection that declares that the cross was a victory, not a defeat. It therefore announces that God has indeed become king on earth as in heaven. Luke’s Ascension story is commonly misunderstood, but its proper emphases ought to be clear. Heaven and earth are now joined in the person – in the risen body! – of Jesus himself. The one who sits in heaven is the one who rules on earth. He therefore sends out his followers, equipped by his own spirit, to celebrate his sovereignty over the world and make it a reality through the founding of communities rescued by his love, renewed by his power, and loyal to his name. Jesus’ followers, equipped with his spirit, are to become in themselves, individually and together, little walking temples, rescued themselves from sin through Jesus’ death, and with the living presence of God going with them and in them.'
'Jesus is the true Temple, now ruling the world as the one who was crucified; his followers, as Paul would explain more thoroughly, constitute the fuller version of the same thing, so that the dwelling of the living God is now spread increasingly across and around the world, again evidenced not by coercive or violent power, but by the rule of love.'
(Taken from 'How God Became King' by Tom Wright)
So where does the Ascension story leave you, today?
Spend a few moments reflecting on these ‘big questions’, and perhaps find someone you trust to talk about these questions (or others that have arisen for you) during this week.
- How can we live out the gospel in our own lives?
- How does the story of Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension change how we live today?
- Are we, as a church, living up to the possibilities of this story? Are we sharing this story widely and passionately enough?
Song: Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) - Hillsong United lyrics
Prayers of response and concern
Listening God: we have many concerns for others and the world in which we all live, your people and your world. In prayer we place before you our thoughts born out of compassion, sadness, and sorrow. Out of anger, frustration and disappointment. Out of fear and uncertainty, hope and longing; a desire for a just and fair world.
Understanding God, receive our prayers.
Help us, we ask, to be your answers to prayer.
May we live to your glory.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours
now and forever.
Song: StF 568 Alleluia! Sing to Jesus - by William Chatterton Dix Performance 2021 Joy and Ruth Everingham
Song: Where You go, I’ll go (I will follow) - Music video by Chris Tomlin performing I Will Follow. (P) (C) 2010 Sparrow Records/sixstepsrecords. All rights reserved.
May Christ the Lord, who lived, who died, who was raised from the dead
And who has ascended into heaven, travel with you.
May the Christ who is amongst, around and within us strengthen you in your calling,
And hold you in your grief.
If you'd like to connect with Grangewood please contact us.
Rev Christine Fox: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to all those who have been part of arranging this week's service.
God Bless x